Australian lamb is gaining momentum on Canadian menus for its taste and versatility, but it’s also impressing diners and chefs with its commitment to sustainability. Many consumers are taking an interest in where their food comes from, aligning with restaurants that echo their values – and they’re willing to pay a premium for sustainable meals.
As the world’s largest lamb exporter, Australian lamb provides a product that is climate-neutral, pasture-raised, all-natural, and free of artificial additives. Australian farmers are committed to quality and integrity, raising lambs humanely and ethically, from paddock to plate.
With its grassy and mild flavour, the lamb is tender and juicy, offering a protein with unquestionable quality and taste, along with a sustainable element to restaurant menus.
Chef James Eddington and team
As owner of Eddington’s of Exeter, and of the 25-acre Eddington’s farm in Lake Huron, Ontario, Chef James Eddington values sustainability as much as taste and consistency for his guests. And while eating locally is important, proximity does not always mean sustainability. “It’s about quality first,” he says. “I’ve always been an advocate for farm-to-table and that’s the beauty of Aussie lamb – it’s pasture-raised all year round, so it’s always a consistent, high-quality product.” He likens it to sourcing avocadoes or lemons from other regions, adding that lamb is a specialty product in Australia that offers a quality product without the prospect of supply chain interruption.
Eddington is part of the Lambassador program, a global initiative bringing together volunteer food professionals who share a passion for cooking lamb with Aussie Beef and Lamb. As part of that partnership, Eddington had the opportunity to visit Australia, spending time talking to the farmers and learning about their methods.
“Education is key in getting guests to appreciate the taste and quality,” says Eddington. And that means doing what chefs do best: telling a story with delicious dishes. “Having chefs prepare it properly with a passion that translates to the plate is how it’s done,” he says, adding that everyone on the team needs to be on board to answer guest questions and share their passion for the special product.
A creative menu gets guests excited, too. While serving lamb shanks in the winter and rack of lamb in the summer months is popular, chefs can look at new ways to use other cuts or off-cuts to offer guests something fresh and new, while making use of the whole animal.
As an example, Eddington reveals that the shoulder is beautiful for braising, searing, cooking, or smoking, making it the highlight of any dish, including gourmet pizza, which is featured on his menu. “One of the takeaways from the Australia visit was the importance of getting creative, featuring lamb in all sorts of new ways, including culturally diverse flavour profiles like Asian and Middle Eastern.” In fact, he’s created a variation of one of the recipes from the Australian event for his menu this season: a dish featuring chickpeas, fresh hummus, tabouleh, rack of lamb, fresh tahini, lemon, mint, and parsley. This is just one of the ways that Eddington is showing off lamb’s versatility, by incorporating seasonal variations to star on his summer menu.
How else does Eddington inspire his guests to give Aussie lamb a try? Taste is paramount, education is key, and sustainability matters, but Eddington says the real secret is creating an experience. As lamb gets more attention in the news and on social media, diners are exposed to mouth-watering images of dishes from around the world, tempting them to give it a try locally. But it’s up to chefs to make it an experience guests want to repeat again and again.
Eddington recommends creating delicious dishes that leave guests wanting more, so “it’s more than just an entrée, it’s an experience.” Think about dishes that pair well with a signature cocktail or local craft beer to get guests to try something new and taste the lamb’s versatility.
From its taste to its sustainability, Australian lamb is raising the bar, impressing chefs and restaurant diners alike.